A neighbor recently approached us about a custom milling job. When they had recently purchased their property they had inherited a large old Pacific Yew tree that had been cut down and unceremoniously left to rot on the ground. A Rescue of this beautiful old trunk of Taxus Brevifolia was in order. We hauled the log sections home to our milling site a few weeks back and waited for the weather to break. The first weekend of November rewarded us with a dry afternoon… time to mill.
The neighbor arrived, with a huge grin on his face, just as Bob was finishing setting up the mill. The first 23″ diameter, 8′ long, log section was rolled onto the mill bed. After much analyzing of the log, and matching it to the customers plans for furniture making and a prominent fireplace mantlepiece for their living room were discussed, the Wood-Mizer portable sawmill was fired up.
A variety of boards were milled. 3/4″ boards, 1″ boards, 2″ slabs and a beautiful 5″ thick slab for the mantlepiece, all with the undulating live edge intact. Each cut revealed beautiful grain, tortuous, tight and multicolored. Scars from damage many years past, voids where decay had begun. A history line of the trees lifetime was opened to our view. Each cut of the bandsaw blade divulged more beauty. What a thrill! The grins widened further.
After several hours the milling of 2 logs was complete. The customer climbed into his pickup, and with an enormous grin on his face, motored his load of Pacific Yew boards and slabs home to his workshop. To a workshop where items of great beauty will be created for their home, the home that sits on the site where this majestic old tree had lived and died. A fitting tribute to this magnificent old tree that would have otherwise been left to rot on the forest floor.
My garden is overflowing with sunflowers. They self seed themselves from year to year with no help from me. There are many varieties, shapes, sizes & colors sprinkled throughout the garden. They are there for the bees & other pollinators, the birds and simply because they just make you smile! Enjoy!
July is a voraciously busy month on the farm. It is a month where you are straddling multiple seasons- in the throes of Summer, prepping for Fall and planning for Winter. The days are getting shorter, the angle of the sun is changing, the harvest is reaching its peak and the farmer always seems to be in perpetual motion. One foot in front of the other, one chore after another, moving forward, feeling behind.
Our July has been exceptionally busy here at FullCircle Farm- gardening, weeding, watering, harvesting, cultivating, seeding, transplanting, thinning, trellising, mowing, composting, feeding, haying, watering, rotating, hoop coop moving, slaughtering, processing, breeding, brooding, hive inspecting, supering, canning, freezing, drying, pickling, jam making, equipment repairing, equipment building, tree cutting, limb chipping, wood stacking, sales & marketing, helping, laughing, loving, eating and sleeping well.
Even as overflowing as this July has been it has purpose and reason. It feels right, It feels good. It is where I belong.
A Beautiful but Busy July
Bringing in the hay is a summer ritual. A ritual I have participated in, with family, every year, since I was a small child. Over time the hay fields have changed, the hay crew has changed, and my role has changed. But this ritual of high summer is the same. Fields of beautiful grass- mowed, raked into windrows, re-raked to cure, then baled with the clackity clack of balers, it is timeless. With a parade of machinery, long ribbons of bales are left twining over the fields, and hay is made.
This is the task of the local farmers we purchase hay from. There is much checking of weather reports to find that window that is long enough to safely turn grass into hay. They spend long hours on the back of a tractor, going round and round the field, attaching the next implement to the tractor and circling the field yet again. It is not an easy task in NW Oregon to make good quality hay. The challenges are many. Many thanks to our hay farmers, Phil & Tom, for the long hot hours the put in to bring us good quality hay for our livestock. We truly appreciate you!
At our farm the loft has been cleaned and organized in preparation. The old hay conveyor has been placed at the loft door. All is ready. The phone call comes. “Hay is ready”, and we leap into action. Equipment is gathered; hay hooks, ratchet straps, coolers of water, gloves, hats, a sweat towel, are all essential to the task. The flatbed trailer is hitched to the truck & the crew of available family is assembled. We are off to the fields where hay bales, warmed by the early morning sun, await us. This is a choreographed event with each member playing an important role. The truck and trailer are driven slowly between rows of bales. From both sides a bale is picked-up, bucked onto the trailer or into the truck bed and then stacked in a pattern to make a tight load. The load steadily grows as the truck creeps along. When the bales are stacked high, ratchet straps are placed criss-cross over the load to hold it steady as we travel home. The truck & trailer are backed-up to the barn to be off-loaded. The load is disassembled one-by-one, each bale placed on the conveyor, and with much clackity clack, lifted skyward into the mouth of the loft. The bales are once again stacked in a tight pattern, this for the final time, on pallets on the loft floor. With stacks 5 high, 10 bales to a pallet, the loft is filled with sweet smelling hay assuring that our animals will eat well over the winter. There is such great satisfaction to be found in a barn full of hay!
Bringing in the hay is a summer ritual on the farm. A ceremony, carried out in earnest each year to mark the longest days of the year and in preparation for the shortest ones.
Garlic is such a satisfying crop to grow. It needs minimal space & minimal attention. It grows mostly during the off-season, has few if any pests and gives a huge yield for the time and space that it requires. I originally started with bulbs of Inchelium Red Garlic purchased from Territorial Seed more than 20 years ago. I have saved the best cloves each season for replanting every year since that time. The garlic has over the years acclimated to our soil and climate and absolutely thrives here. It has been very gratifying to take a crop “FullCircle” for over 2 decades. With each year my harvest has increased in quality, flavor and size. The crop has improved as my soil has improved with composting and re-mineralization and as my growing techniques have been refined.
Each year I save the best bulbs for replanting, setting them aside to cure completely. A different raised bed/s are chosen each year to plant the following years crop. The bed is prepped in late summer after harvesting whatever crop it currently holds. I turn the soil with a fork, add a sprinkle of lime and organic fertilizer, finally topping it off with ½” or so of good farmyard compost. After lightly mixing the top layer I throw on a quick cover crop of buckwheat and/or field peas and rake it in. A little water to get it started and we are done until mid/late September. At that time I turn the cover in with a garden fork and let it rest and decompose for a few weeks. The target date to plant garlic in our area is in October. Just remember “plant by Halloween, harvest by 4th of July.” Here in NW Oregon we usually have some beautiful weather in October. I just try to get the garlic cloves planted before the serious rains arrive. I break apart the bulbs I have saved, and set aside the outermost cloves for planting. The smaller inside cloves go to the kitchen. The soil that was amended earlier is soft and airy and the cloves are easily pushed in 1”-2” deep. By planting on a grid of 4” to 6” apart a large amount of garlic can be planted in a small space. From my garden this year I harvested 250 big, beautiful bulbs from a 4’ X 12’ area of raised bed! After the planting is complete, a quick pass with the back of a rake smoothes out the bed. Lastly I like to spread a 1” mulch of chopped leaves, leaves with grass clippings or straw over the bed for over-wintering. There is nothing more to do until Spring arrives.
Early the following Spring, little green noses of garlic begin appearing above the mulch. Hand-pull any weeds that may appear, maybe lightly side-dress with organic fertilizer and re-mulch if you like. If nature doesn’t water them you will need to. I will deeply hand water the bed each week if it has been dry. You are trying to grow big, strong, healthy tops, as that is what it takes to grow a nice sized bulb. In June I discontinue watering and let the plants start to dry off. When about 1/3 of the green top is yellowed; sometimes the tops will start to lean over also; it is time to harvest, usually by the 4th of July here in the Pacific Northwest. Pick a dry day and gently lift each bulb out of the soil using a garden fork. Try not to damage the bulb or it’s papery cover. Gently tap off excess dirt. Set in a dry, shady, well-ventilated spot and allow them to cure. Remember to save the best bulbs for replanting in the Fall.
Home -grown garlic is the best. There are so many varieties to try. I encourage you to head out this Fall and plant yourself a bed, or two, of Glorious Garlic!